Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Doñana National Park

Spain
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Major linear utilities
  • Mining
  • Non-renewable energy facilities
  • Oil and gas
  • Water (extraction)
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Oil and gas (Potential impacts from infrastructural projects in the vicinity of the property, including gas storage)
  • Mining (Proposed re-opening of Aznalcóllar mine upstream of the property)
  • Water infrastructure (Proposed upgrading of a dam upstream of the property)
  • Water (extraction) (Unsustainable use of water with impacts on the Doñana aquifer)
  • Water infrastructure (Dredging of the Guadalquivir River) (issue resolved)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

1998: World Heritage Centre Advisory mission; 1999, 2001, 2004: joint World Heritage Centre, IUCN and Ramsar missions (Doñana 2005 expert meetings on Hydrological Restoration of Wetlands); January 2011: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission and Ramsar Advisory mission; January 2015: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 28 November 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/document/171075 and which provides updates in response to Decision 41 COM 7B.9 as follows:

  • While the hydrological condition of the Almonte-Marismas aquifer (MASb) outside of the property has deteriorated, the condition inside the property is considered to be stable. The Extraction Plan (EP) and Special Irrigation Plan (SIP) is being implemented, resulting in the closure of 315 wells since 2015 to reduce groundwater abstraction. Land acquisition for hydrological forest restoration and analyses of existing irrigation infrastructures have resulted in a net-reduction of irrigable agricultural land by 268.21ha. The public administrations involved in water management are aiming to replenish the aquifer deposits by increasing the annual transfer of 4.99hm3 from the Tinto-Odiel-Piedras basin to the Guadalquivir basin by another 15hm3;
  • On 2 March 2018, the developer Minera Los Frailes initiated a process for obtaining Unified Environmental Approval to reactivate the former Aznalcóllar mine. The project is being evaluated in line with the Integrated Environmental Quality Management, in which the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessments is expected to be incorporated together with a risk analysis;
  • Four gas extraction and storage projects in the vicinity of the property are undergoing approval processes. The Marismas Oriental project has not been authorized. The Environmental Impact statements were positive for the Marisma Occidental and Aznalcázar projects and the former has started implementation whilst the latter is pending the approval of the Ministry for Industry. The Saladillo project has received a positive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) but its application process is still in progress. All projects are located 3 to 25km from the property;
  • A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Guadalquivir river basin will be conducted for the next Hydrological Planning Cycle under the European Union Water Framework Directive. The consultation and public information period for the third cycle of the hydrological planning process (2021-2027) started in October 2018. The new Hydrological Plan for this cycle will incorporate a specific chapter on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

On 1, 24, 26 and 30 April 2019, the State Party responded to a letter from the World Heritage Centre, dated 6 March 2019, which requested additional information on the hydrogeological relations of the aquifer zones and clarifications in response to third party information on, inter alia, a proposal of a highway connecting Huelva and Cadiz and on infringement proceedings launched by the European Commission regarding the Habitats and the Water Framework Directives. In its letters, the State Party invited an IUCN expert to the property to assess the situation, and also provided clarifications to the Centre’s letter, including confirmation that the highway project does not exist.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The State Party’ reported efforts to reduce groundwater usage and the stabilization of the hydrological status inside the property are appreciated. It is noted nevertheless, that the annexed 2016-2017 Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation report on the status of the aquifers indicates a stabilization of the aquifer sections inside the property at “pre-alert” and “alert” levels, whilst four sections partly adjoining the northern boundary of the property are reported to be in an “alarming” state. The State Party clarified that the aquifer inside the property is separate to the aquifer sections outside of the property and therefore unaffected by their status. It is appreciated that the State Party is implementing the EP and SIP, including the reduction of irrigable agricultural land and continued inspections. Nevertheless, further effort is needed to reverse the state of the Doñana aquifer, which the State Party notes, under the current method and level of groundwater abstraction in a significant part of the MASb, if sustained, would ultimately compromise the terrestrial ecosystem.

The efforts to quadruple the transfer of water from the Tinto-Odiel-Piedras basin to the Guadalquivir basin are noted in this respect, but their potential positive and negative effects, such as pollution risks and oversupply – as noted in the 2015 mission – should be carefully assessed  through an EIA in line with the IUCN Advice Note.

While it is noted that the chapter titles of the current Scoping Document of the SEA do not explicitly refer to the OUV of the property, it is appreciated that the State Party plans to include a chapter on it in the Hydrological Plan for the period of 2021-2027. The chapter should be accompanied by revised plans for water management in the river basin, covering water supply scenarios, agricultural, industrial and commercial development, with the objective of long term protection of the OUV, in order to be in line with Decisions 38 COM 7B.79 and 41 COM 7B.9. The State Party should be requested to submit the draft version of this chapter to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN.

Despite the above-mentioned efforts, it is of concern that the European Commission decided to refer Spain to the European Court of Justice regarding breaches of the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive, whilst also noting that the State Party reports it has not yet been informed of the precise terms of the referral.

The submitted project documentation and EIA assess the re-opening of the former Aznacóllar mine for sulphur exploitation and on-site production of zinc, lead and copper located upstream of the property. Against the background of Decisions CONF 203 VII.25/24, CONF 204 IV.B.39 and 39 COM 7B.26, the State Party is urged to prepare a clear risk preparedness plan and rapid emergency response capacities. The State Party’s intention to incorporate the IUCN Advice Note and a risk analysis is considered crucial and should comprise a systematic risk assessment and emergency action plans that would take into account the location of the property downstream of the mine. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the respective analyses to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before a decision on the re-opening of the mine is made.

The Environmental Impact statements for Marisma Occidental and Aznalcázar projects recognize temporary impacts during the construction phase, including fragmentation of habitats and disturbance of fauna,  surface aquifers and watercourses While the mitigation measures are noted, the additional fragmentation of the property’s upstream areas potentially adding pressure on habitats, surface and groundwater flow are of concern, especially in conjunction with other potential impacts discussed above.

Taking into consideration the invitation from the State Party for an IUCN expert to visit the property, as well as the discussions about surface and groundwater, and also considering the multiple development projects proposed, planned and approved in the vicinity of the property, which have the potential to individually and cumulatively impact on the OUV of the property, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, to be organized jointly with the Ramsar Secretariat, if possible.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.20
Doñana National Park (Spain) (N 685bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.27, 38 COM 7B.79, 39 COM 7B.26 and 41 COM 7B.9 adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Reiterates that a continued decline of the Doñana aquifer, if not reversed, could represent a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  4. While noting the continued inspections and a reduction of irrigable agricultural land in connection to the implementation of the Extraction Plan and Special Irrigation Plan (SIP), expresses its deep concern that the aquifer’s status within the property remains at “pre-alert” and “alert” levels (adjoined by aquifer sections in an “alarming” state) and that the current method and level of groundwater abstraction in a significant part of the Almonte-Marismas aquifer, if sustained, would ultimately compromise the terrestrial ecosystem;
  5. Appreciates that the Hydrological Plan for the 2021-2027 period will include a chapter on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and also requests the State Party to submit the draft chapter including revised plans for water management and use in the river basin, based on a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that takes into account the OUV of the property and covers water supply scenarios, agricultural, industrial and commercial development, in line with Decisions 38 COM 7B.79 and 41 COM 7B.9, for review by IUCN;
  6. Also recalling the relevance of the European Union Water Framework, Birds and Habitats Directives as part of the legal protection regime for the conservation of the property’s OUV, expresses its concern about the infringement decision issued by the European Commission regarding the Habitats and Water Framework Directives, and further requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of the outcomes of the infringement proceedings as soon as they become available;
  7. Notes the plans to quadruple the transfer of water from the Tinto-Odiel-Piedras basin to the Guadalquivir basin, and requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including an analysis of any potential positive and negative impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, prior to operation and as a matter of priority;
  8. Further recalling the need for great caution with regards to re-opening the former Aznalcóllar mine, urges the State Party to ensure that systematic risk preparedness and emergency action plans take into account the property and to submit these analyses for review by IUCN, as soon as they become available and before a decision on re-opening the mine is made;
  9. Notes with concern that the Environmental Impact statements for the Marisma Occidental and Aznalcálzar projects located in close proximity of the property recognized impacts from the additional fragmentation of the property’s upstream areas, potentially adding pressure on habitats, as well as surface and groundwater flows;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, to be conducted jointly with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention if possible, to assess the potential impacts of current and future developments and water management on the OUV of the property, and to review the implementation of the recommendations of previous missions;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.20

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.27, 38 COM 7B.79, 39 COM 7B.26 and 41 COM 7B.9 adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Reiterates that a continued decline of the Doñana aquifer, if not reversed, could represent a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  4. While noting the continued inspections and a reduction of irrigable agricultural land in connection to the implementation of the Extraction Plan and Special Irrigation Plan (SIP), expresses its deep concern that the aquifer’s status within the property remains at “pre-alert” and “alert” levels (adjoined by aquifer sections in an “alarming” state) and that the current method and level of groundwater abstraction in a significant part of the Almonte-Marismas aquifer, if sustained, would ultimately compromise the terrestrial ecosystem;
  5. Appreciates that the Hydrological Plan for the 2021-2027 period will include a chapter on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and also requests the State Party to submit the draft chapter including revised plans for water management and use in the river basin, based on a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that takes into account the OUV of the property and covers water supply scenarios, agricultural, industrial and commercial development, in line with Decisions 38 COM 7B.79 and 41 COM 7B.9, for review by IUCN;
  6. Also recalling the relevance of the European Union Water Framework, Birds and Habitats Directives as part of the legal protection regime for the conservation of the property’s OUV, expresses its concern about the infringement decision issued by the European Commission regarding the Habitats and Water Framework Directives, and further requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of the outcomes of the infringement proceedings as soon as they become available;
  7. Notes the plans to quadruple the transfer of water from the Tinto-Odiel-Piedras basin to the Guadalquivir basin, and requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including an analysis of any potential positive and negative impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessments, prior to operation and as a matter of priority;
  8. Further recalling the need for great caution with regards to re-opening the former Aznalcóllar mine, urges the State Party to ensure that systematic risk preparedness and emergency action plans take into account the property and to submit these analyses for review by IUCN, as soon as they become available and before a decision on re-opening the mine is made;
  9. Notes with concern that the Environmental Impact statements for the Marisma Occidental and Aznalcálzar projects located in close proximity of the property recognized impacts from the additional fragmentation of the property’s upstream areas, potentially adding pressure on habitats, as well as surface and groundwater flows;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, to be conducted jointly with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention if possible, to assess the potential impacts of current and future developments and water management on the OUV of the property, and to review the implementation of the recommendations of previous missions;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.
Report year: 2019
Spain
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


top